31 October, 2012

Nine More Sleeps...

Yes, it’s ALMOST that time of year again. Time for me rejuvenate and store up on some sunshine and vitamin D before the long winter ahead. It’s time for me to pack my bags and scuba gear and head off to a place where memories are made, good times are had and the ocean is explored.

For some, Disney is the happiest place on earth, but for me it’s Bonaire. You may recall this is one of my contenders for places to retire, so J and I plan on using this opportunity to do some more research into the actual cost of living, average cost of vehicles, neighborhoods, etc. Five years is still a long way off, but at least we’ll be getting an idea of how expensive things actually are.

I can hardly wait to get there and park myself at the beach bar for a beverage or two - for a live webcam view of it, take a look here.  Maybe you'll see me there (in a week and a bit)...

Here are a few photos of the island from vacations past…



By the way - all of the above photos are courtesy of J and if you are interested in seeing more of his work, go here.

26 October, 2012

Noise...

Is there a place you can go to escape the man-made noises that we are overwhelmed by each day? Whether it be the sounds of traffic, office noise, television, radio, the hum of a florescent light fixture or your neighbor cutting the grass, noise is everywhere.

I watched a program on Discovery Channel the other night and it got me thinking about the noise we are surrounded by every day. Most times we aren’t even aware of how loud things have become because we’ve either grown accustomed to it or don’t know what we are missing in the first place.

The segment focused on a gentleman who is endeavoring to capture the sounds of species that are on the brink of extinction. His plan is to preserve natural sounds before it’s too late. He had a great quote that went something like “we won’t even know what we’ve missed out on or that it was even there in the first place thanks to urban sprawl and the number of people that are now on the planet”. It’s a sad but true statement.

Wouldn’t it be nice to discover some untouched wilderness, where the only sound you hear would be the wind through the trees, birds in the forest or the beating on your own heart?

Is there ever a time in your day when things are completely silent around you?   Tell me, are you comforted by silence or would you prefer background noise?

“Listen to the sound of silence.” – Paul Simon



24 October, 2012

Making Money…Every Little Bit Helps…


In our quest for reaching the 5 Year Plan and as a means of maintaining our early retirement, J and I have been tossing about ideas on how to make some extra money.

As you know, I already have my back-up plan – Flamingo Tongue Designs, although I don’t suspect this to be as successful in a third world country as it currently is here in Canada, but I guess only time will tell.

As you also know, J is the resident photographer in our family. He takes 100’s of photographs when we travel – both on land and underwater, so it seemed only natural that he use his God given talent for good and tries to sell some of them. This is also a hobby/business that would be ongoing and self-sustaining no matter where we end up. If you ask me it’s a win, win.

So with that said, J’s been spending hours, upon hours, sifting through his photos, organizing and submitting them for approval to various micro stock photography sites. It’s been a tedious and sometimes frustrating process - the submission guidelines are tough and the whole process is over-the-top time-consuming, but he’s persevered and has finally been approved and some of his content is now available for purchase here.

Remember to check back often because new content is continuously being added and if you like what you see, please feel free to purchase something – after all every little bit helps the cause (aka me) and may just secure you a seat on my beach. LOL!

23 October, 2012

Trolls and The Wedding From Hell...

I don’t even know where to begin other than to say – WTH! I hadn’t planned on posting this, but the more I think about it, the more worked up I’m getting and I think the world needs to know that there are selfish trolls amongst us.

This past weekend, we (J’s entire family) had the pleasure of attending the most chaotic wedding EVER.

I don’t know what people are thinking or in most cases – not thinking. I’m trying to understand where bad behavior comes from. Is it a learned response or is the under 30 generation to blame for their self-entitlement attitude and inconsideration for others? I’d like to believe it is a learned response and that the entire generation is not made up of “self-absorbed, whiney, the world owes me so much and I don’t want to work for it morons”.

Let’s start by saying that J’s niece got married. If we could overlook the fact that the groom is “a piece of work”, it should have been a wonderful family moment. Unfortunately, it turned into mayhem, tears, more mayhem, near disasters, more tears, some shouting, a near heart attack and let’s not forget – sore feet.

A little background – the wedding couple are supposedly “poor”. I use poor loosely since they seem to have money to spend frivolously on other things, except for their own wedding, but then again why would they spend their money when they have obvious suckers for friends and family who’d be more than willing to spend their time and money to throw the “lazy-ass” couple their own wedding.

A year ago when the happy couple announced they were first getting married, J’s brother (the father of the bride) offered to cook and cater the “intimate” wedding for 50. When he agreed, it was also thought, the wedding would be held locally, so J’s parents (the grandparents of the bride) agreed to help their son, throw their granddaughter a wonderful intimate wedding.

Fast forward to 6 months ago – the venue changed from locally to 4 hours away. Father and grandparents of the bride feel sorry for the bride-to-be because she is “poor” and can’t afford the wedding of her dreams, so they still agree to cater her wedding, which has now turned from intimate to 180 people…4 hours away from where they live. Here’s where the phrase “no way in hell” would have came in handy.

Fast forward to last week, father and grandparents of the bride spend 2 days shopping and another 2 days prepping, cutting, cooking over 10 roasts, gravies and sauces, buckets of potatoes and buckets and buckets of salads. Then, they were required to load the mega amount of food into their van and then drive 4 hours away the day before the wedding to get everything put into the venue that would host the wedding from hell.

Fast forward to Saturday (aka the day of the wedding from hell). Where to begin?

• The “minister” was 45 minutes late. Apparently he wrote the wrong time down, so when he received a frantic call, he immediately raced to the venue. He must have been in such a hurry to get started, that he forgot to take his gum out of his mouth, so we had to watch while he smacked and chomped away through the entire ceremony. I guess that’s not so bad, considering he also kept referring to the bride by her nickname and not her actual name.

• Once the wedding procession started down the aisle, it was a race to the finish. They were moving so fast, cameras could not focus fast enough to get photos. Once again, not the most awkward moment – no, that time came when the groom thought it appropriate to high five every member of the bridal party (and yell boo-yah) when they reached the front of the hall. Tacky? Absolutely. But wait, the bride and groom also thought it was totally appropriate to high five once they were pronounced “man and wife”. Tacky? Wait, we agreed it was.

• Drinks and snacks were to be served at starting at 5:30. Seems that no one initially knew who was supplying the snacks, but after some confusion, we started just throwing some stuff on platter and putting it out.

I should take a moment to explain, the “we”. As much as it was J’s brother and parents’ idea to cater this thing, we (aka J’s sister, J, the Boy and myself) couldn’t hang those 3 family members out to dry, so we stepped in and started schlepping food, drink, setting tables, etc., etc. for 180 people.

• It is “alleged” that “helpers” were apparently hired and on their way to assist with the meal service, so the family members could actually sit down and enjoy the event; however by the time the meal was ready, no servers were present. What does that mean? My theory is that the groom purposely did not hire them. Why pay for help when your bride’s family will do it, right? It’s a good thing I have years of wait service under my belt, The Boy had a year of culinary management.

• J’s mother had few too many meltdowns throughout the day, as she does not work well under pressure. For obvious reasons, she had a personal stake in this day and then couldn’t even enjoy it.

• J’s dad, having undergone triple by-pass in the Spring has never fully recovered and the stress of the day overwhelmed him. Shortly after supper was served, he began experiencing chest pains, but he would not tell anyone that he had forgotten his nitroglycerin medication at the hotel. I had saw J’s dad clenching his chest, but instead of telling J’s mom the reason why, we had simply said he wasn’t feeling well.

• J’s mother got royally upset with all of us because we insisted that she needed to leave because J’s dad wasn’t well. She started yelling at us and was upset because we all ruined her day. Excuse me? Yeah, I was behaving and bit my tongue on that one.

• Finally, J was able to wrangle his parents back to the hotel. En route, apparently J’s mom was complaining at J’s dad that she had to leave, how it wasn’t fair to her, blah, blah, blah. I guess J’s dad then snapped and told her, he had to leave because he was having chest pains. Apparently that shut her up and then she was as nice as pie. Stress – it does stupid things to people.

The “piece de resistance” came during the speeches. Everyone, EXCEPT the family of the bride were thanked for the contributions to the couple’s special day. At this point in time, I was too exhausted to care and was grateful that J’s parents had left because that surely would have sent them both over the edge...and to emergency.

It’s sad. I believe it wasn’t done intentionally, I just get the feeling that their generation is out of touch with reality or the people around them. Feelings of others don’t matter. As long as they get what they want, when they want it, their life is complete.  Trolls...the world is full of them.

I wish them the best in married life, but in all honestly, I could care less I ever spent another family gathering with either of them.

Rant over…I feel better now.

13 October, 2012

Still Alive and Kicking...

I wish I could tell you I won the lottery and skipped town, but such is not the case.  This has been a busy month - there's been weddings, Canadian Thanksgiving, family commitments, busy work schedules, blah, blah, blah.  No spectacular excuses, just life.

Oh yeah, I've also been crazy busy getting my jewelry inventory built up for the big show in December.  Yes, I realize December seems far off, but in reality - not really because yet to come is another wedding, our pre-winter scuba getaway to Bonaire and then voila...the show!

So, there you have it.  Just thought I stop in to say hello.  Miss you lots.

Well, since I'm here, here is a sea glass piece I just finished - 13 pieces of Puerto Rican sea glass and fresh water pears.

 

01 October, 2012

Take a Trip, Clear Your Mind...

After a couple of years of wandering aimlessly through a couple of different college programs, The Boy has decided to take a year off from his search of post-secondary knowledge. In hindsight, J and I should have encouraged him to do this sooner, as it would have save a lot of time, money and frustration by everyone involved, but as parents, you want your children to succeed, have more and do more than you personally.

During my generation, we finished high school knowing we were lucky to be heading off for college because many of our parents didn’t have that ability. They simply finished high school and entered the work force, got married, started a family, etc. A post-secondary education wasn’t expected from them, or in some cases it wasn’t even an option.

In this day and age, we expect our children to be destined for greatness and when greatness doesn’t come exactly how and when we expect it – on our terms and schedule, we become overly concerned that there is something fundamentally wrong with our children or we begin to second guess our parenting ability.

Having experience those exact misgivings, we’ve taken a step back and reevaluated what’s important. The Boy’s happiness is our # 1 priority. God knows, we don’t want him to pick a career path for the sake of shutting us up and be miserable for the rest of his life, which in turn will make him resent us.

On the other hand, he’s not going to be lollygagging about doing nothing but playing video games for the next year. J and I expect him to be a contributing member of society and with that will come a job - eventually.

But before the job, he’s gone off on a little adventure – to Ireland. He’s been saving for a couple of years for this one and is paying for it himself, so I wasn’t about to nag about the need to get a job over the need to travel. That would be downright hypocritical because we all know I would easily pick travel over a job.

So, with that said – he packed his bag, jumped on a plane and off he went to tour Ireland. He’s been gone since last Saturday and will be back this coming Saturday. It certainly isn’t a backpack across Europe kind of trip, but this is something that’s definitely out of his comfort zone.

I’m hoping somehow he’ll become inspired by his adventure and with that inspiration will come clarity - clarity on what he wants to be when he grows up or maybe he’ll choose the lifestyle I’ve always wanted for myself – beach bum extraordinaire.

Only time will tell how this adventure will impact his future and until then, we wait.